NSW Farmers today welcomed the state government’s announcement that it would extend drought assistance to 21 new areas in NSW.
But the body which represents farmers and rural communities across NSW said with many more areas in the state experiencing dry conditions - the government needed to speed its process up.
NSW Farmers President Fiona Simson said: “The government should see this as an investment in farming in NSW.”
“Farmers have been preparing and managing through drought for more than 12 months.
“We have had reports that people have spent more than half a million dollars managing this drought. You wouldn’t spend that much unless you believe you can continue to make a business out of farming when the drought breaks.
“Farmers have been making the tough decisions in selling stock, not planting crops and buying in feed. It is good to see the state government has finally come to the party and made a decision.
“But it cannot rest on its laurels. This announcement means 52 percent of the state can receive assistance but the feedback from our members suggests more than 60 percent of the state is suffering drought.
“The government knows the current situation because we have been putting it in front of them for months. What we don’t want is another protracted process for getting measures approved if more areas move into drought.
“Some of the areas such as the far west unincorporated area had additional information collected two months ago - why should it take that long for a decision?
“The government needs to make the drought triggers and process transparent so all farmers can understand how these decisions are made.
“Part of the issue is that farmers are not being given any acknowledgement of the situation they are in. Four years ago it was called a drought, now the government wants to avoid the word. Call a drought a drought and let people know what the criteria are for being in drought.
“Farmers in NSW are very thankful the government has listened to NSW Farmers and the farmers in the north west and announced these in-drought measures. But we must realise that the battle for our farmers is not over yet. They are still living it every day,” Ms Simson concluded.